The days have been turning darker and rainier over the past week, and today the first thing I noticed when I stepped outside was a scattering of golden leaves on the ground. Although seasonality in perfume is a vaguely defined concept, it is enjoyable to switch one’s scented wardrobe in anticipation of a new season. For me, the soft florals (or aldehydic florals) and classical florals of the summer give way to the chypre and oriental compositions during the colder months. Both chypres and orientals are comprised of notes that can give a warm sensation, such as the dry heat of patchouli in the former or the sensual richness of spices and resins in the latter. In contrast to the delicate, dewy notes of soft florals like Robert Piguet Baghari and fresh florals like Marc Jacobs Blush, the flowers blooming in the hearts of oriental fragrances are opulent and sweet—rose, jasmine, carnation, narcissus. The iris that forms the link between the middle and base notes of many chypre perfumes is more of a wood than a flower—hefty, silky and rich. What might appear as too heavy and smothering in the heat instead works like a cashmere wrap in the cold. …
Bvlgari BlackBvlgari Black
is definitely not a prim and proper fragrance. Black tar, rubber, and smoke — as improbably as it sounds, the result is seductive and modern.
Caron’s dark undercurrent has no seasonal associations for me, but Poivre
does. Dark, spicy, with a rich heart of carnation, it is by far my favorite Caron fragrance. Also, the civet smeared flowers of Narcisse Noir
and the vanilla and tobacco scented leather of Tabac Blond
unfold even more beautifully in the cold air.
A majestic oriental fragrance, Coco
is said to be inspired by the baroque décor of Chanel’s apartment at Rue Cambon. Jasmine blossoms, spices and amber result in a blend as intoxicating as cognac.
Comme des Garçons Incense SeriesAvignon, Kyoto, Jalsaimer, Quarzazate
, and Zagorsk
. Five different types of incense from different traditions and suitable for different moods. I have always been partial to the iris accented incantations of Zagorsk
; however, lately I have been leaning towards the coffee tinged warmth of Kyoto
Coty L’Origan Coty L’Origan
and many of its floral oriental siblings, from Guerlain L’Heure Bleue
to Giorgio Armani Code for Women
, take floral softness and wrap it into vanilla and amber. The delicate effect is retained, and yet the end result is more substantial and complex.
Estée Lauder Youth Dew Amber NudeYouth Dew Amber Nude
is not just create a flanker to the original Youth Dew
. It is a fragrance with its own distinct character and signature. The apricot wood of its magnolia note lends a particularly appealing twist to the composition. It feels like gold threaded silk and wears like transparent cashmere.
Frédéric Malle Musc Ravageur
Maurice Roucel readily admits that there is no musk in Musc Ravageur
. “Musk tincture has musk (powdery and creamy like Muscone) and animalic parts. In Musc Ravageur, I used only the animalic aspect,” he notes . I find this fragrance simply irresistible, and its animalic warmth is welcome on these dark autumnal days. For a less hefty and more gourmand version, one might like to try L de Lolita Lempicka
. Another Frédéric Malle fragrance that brightens up any cold day with its gentle radiance is Une Rose
, a neoclassical chypre with a big dose of amber.
The gilded autumnal hues of Mitsouko
, the melancholy aura of L’Heure Bleue
, the plumy rose refrain of Nahéma
. The iris, tonka bean and rose leitmotif of the house of Guerlain lends itself to being worn on chilly days. The masculine collection is likewise impressive, and I would encourage women to explore it, especially Habit Rouge
and L’Instant pour Homme
Ormonde Jayne Tolu
Resinous and vanillic, Tolu
is a classical oriental. Although in the summer I choose to admire it from a distance, in the fall, it turns into a staple. Ta’if
, an olfactory painting of Persian still life with fruit and sweetmeats, is another great fragrance for warming up on a cold evening.
Santa Maria Novella Opoponax
smells like an old library, a scent of varnish, damp paper and ink. However, this accord soon vanishes, leaving a smooth, piquant base of patchouli and resins. Given its fascinating transformation, Opoponax ranks as my favorite fragrance from Santa Maria Novella, along with rubber and cypress leaf layered Nostalgia
With few exceptions, the opulent heft of Serge Lutens‘s fragrance is perfect for the colder times of the year. Exploring them is like flipping ornate pages of an antique fairytale book. My personal favorites include Fleurs d’Oranger, Rose de Nuit
and Bois de Violette
Sisley Soir de LuneSoir de Lune
is not for the faint of heart. Yet, if one enjoys the spicy darkness of classical chypres, it will be a great discovery this fall.
And yet, there are days when nothing is more perfect than a drop of Diorissimo parfum, a beautiful reminder of the spring that is still nine months away. The list above reflects my personal tastes, but experimenting with a variety of other possibilities is always an enjoyable process. If you have your own favorites for the fall, please share them.
Photo: Catherine Deneuve by Jean-Marie Périer from Tout Sur Deneuve. La Deneuve is quite a fragrance lover. In a variety of interviews she has given, she names Guerlain L’Heure Bleue, Serge Lutens collection such as Ambre Sultan, Un Lys, and Rose de Nuit, Frédéric Malle Lys Méditerranée, The Different Company Bois d’Iris, and Annick Goutal Sables as her favorites.